Friday, May 15, 2015

Lunch and the Mediterranean Diet

One thing you won't find on the menu of someone who wants to eat a Mediterranean diet is fast food - no quick burger or taco. Lunch for those who want to live this lifestyle is a celebration of great food - fresh vegetables, fruits, and olive oil. And think about it- if you want to have a great lunch, don't you want the afternoon to be doing something besides recovering from a bad burger?


Salads area a feature for lunch on the Mediterranean Diet
The focus of eating healthy is having a good basis to start.  In this case, the base is a combination of green leafy vegetables, fruits, and grains. One of the easiest ways to get that is in a salad. Why a salad? Because in a salad you can place a lot of great vegetables, grains, and you can even add some nuts, seeds, and some left overs from the night before.

With the Mediterranean Diet the emphasis is on the flavor of the vegetables, not on the salad dressing.  In the case of the Stetson salad you have grains, a bit of cheese, some protein. Now to this salad you could add some avocado pieces, or some smoked salmon. The one below is a vegetarian option, although I do like mine with a bit of smoked salmon
My favorite salad - recipe from Cowboy Ciao's in Scottsdale. Lined up left to right:
Arugula, Israeli couscous, Roma tomatoes, Corn, Asiago cheese, Toasted Pepitas, Black Currants
Salads can incorporate those dark, leafy greens like arugula (see above) some dark baby spinach, kale,  and even bok choi. Add in some other great vegetables, to provide a bit of crunch and texture and flavors to the salad.

Don't forget the grains. Having left over grains makes a great addition to the salad. Couscous is a great addition to a salad, as is quinoa. Kale is bitter so it is best accented with some grapes to provide sweetness, and when you add some quinoa for protein and cheese for a bit of that Mediterranean flare you have one balanced and delicious salad.

This salad is a great combination of shredded kale, quinoa, sunflower seeds, grapes, preserved lemon, red peppers, fresh parmesan cheese and some manchego. This salad can be found from Ingo in Phoenix.
While the original Cesar Salad sounds like it is Mediterranean, it is really from Mexico, but this Kale Cesar salad has al the ingredients of a great meal: olive oil, kale, slivered almonds, pecorino, dates, and some lemon juice. My favorite Kale Cesar salad is from Tarbell's Restaurant in Phoenix. But this one is easy to make.
The other advantage of salads is you can incorporate last night's protein in them. On top of any of these salads you can put some cold salmon, some cod, or perhaps a bit of thinly sliced cold steak. But the idea of lunch is not to have it heavy with protein - but something light that will sustain you.


A hearty soup for lunch is another great choice on the Mediterranean diet. The great thing about soups is you can make them at home and portion them out in the refrigerator or freezer to keep. Then bring them to work and zap them in the microwave.

 Lentil Soup
Easy to make, and a hearty soup - Lentil provides you with a great deal of protein.
Lentil soup is one of my favorite soups. If you don't wish to go through the trouble of making it there are about ten different types you can buy in most grocery stores. But it is easy to make, then you have portions for a long time and it allows you to really enjoy a great soup.

Vegetarian Chili

This combines some of the best ingredients, layers of flavors, and yet can be made ahead of time, and easily eaten out.
Some might wonder- why a vegetarian chili? Why not use some hamburger in it, or perhaps some turkey. For the Mediterranean diet red meat is underemphasized, but there is a more practical reason. Hamburger and turkey proteins dry out as you re-heat them. Especially if you re-heat them in the microwave. Instead make a vegetarian chili- which would be filled with olive oil, onions, garlic, tomatoes, pinto and black beans, as well as a bit of chili. The idea with the Mediterranean diet is moving away from saturated fats, and into polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
You can make this ahead of time, portion it out and freeze some, and have some for work. If you have it for dinner and someone really wants some meat in their chili, you can always fry some hamburger up in a skillet with onions and garlic and add it later- avoiding the problems of the proteins losing their moisture and getting more "dry" as they reheat.

No comments:

Post a Comment